Everything must go!!!

…mainly because otherwise keeping a lot of this stuff around would impose a health hazard on everyone within a 1,500-foot radius of our previously humble, but now somewhat frightening abode.  Of course, I probably wouldn’t feel nearly as guilty about my lack of culinary cleanliness if you could take just a moment to check out your own cupboard and realize that you’ve still got stuff in there dating back to before President Obama took office, too…

Yeah, those dates that you can’t even read because they’re so faded?  Not a good sign, or so I’m told…

The funny thing is, unlike cleaning out one’s refrigerator, which tends to have its own set of pungent prompts that make themselves blatantly apparent once your food starts getting to the point of reproducing asexually and growing its own layer of protective, blue fur, there really aren’t any warning signs whatsoever that the seventeen boxes of Cap’n Crunch in your cupboard are going bad until you finally crack one of those babies open and end up cutting the insides of your mouth even more than normal on a handful of stale cereal.  There is no Bleeech Effect when it comes to cupboard-based foods, which frankly I think is a real design flaw because maybe if some of these boxes would’ve started stinking up the joint, I would’ve actually addressed the problem, well, years ago!

For you see, my own journey into the dark and cavernous depths of the inner cupboard this spring didn’t exactly occur out of some sort of sudden concern for public safety or a freshness fetish, if you will (try saying that three times fast!), but in actuality it simply arose instead out of a very basic concept – there wasn’t enough room to put away all of the crap that I had just brought home from the store. It doesn’t need to be any more detailed than that, but I can tell you that the learnings that stemmed from that there moment are still amazing to me as I write this days later!

I learned, for example, that tea bags actually have expiration dates.

I discovered that we had no less than four boxes of cereal in our cupboard that neither of us even like! Presumably, these were purchased during various guest visits over the years, but even then, who the hell eats Fiber One, anyways?!

I found that I really wish that I would’ve just splurged last Christmas and made one extra batch of gingerbread cookies because if I had, there wouldn’t have been a half-empty bottle of molasses in our cupboard to leave really sticky and nasty stains all over the place.

I also came to notice that some companies try to be all clever with their Expiration Dates by instead calling them Best Used By Dates … but don’t be fooled – if that Easy Mac was Best Used By July 2007, it’s done expired by now!

And don’t even ask me where some of this stuff came from because I really haven’t the foggiest idea.  What’s sad is that some of these boxes had dates from 2007 printed on them, meaning that most likely we brought them with us from our last apartment when we moved a couple of years ago.  Worse yet, though, is that a select few items had checkout labels that I don’t even recognize from stores that exist in the State of Florida, which means … you got it – they were stray boxes left over from when I first moved to Florida from Michigan.

Yeah … that was SEVEN YEARS AGO!!!

So needless to say, I suppose if there’s one final thing to be learned from this week’s pickled pantry predicament, it’s this – aside from making extra space for more current eatables, there’s really technically no harm in neglecting to clean out your kitchen cupboards for seasons or even entire years on end! In fact, if you’re somebody who finds themselves blessed with an abundance of cupboards and drawers, I’d heartily recommend just saying, “Screw it!” and hopping from one to another as the mood and lack of space hits you.  Live to the beat of your own drum and leave those antiquated Frosted Flakes for somebody else to toss in the trash after actually getting through two or three bowls because Frosted Flakes are still surprisingly Gr-r-reat! even after they’ve aged, much like a fine wine or a particularly stinky cheese…

You don’t know what kind of joy it brings me to get to tell you this, but laziness can be the answer when it comes to cleaning out your pantry!  Better to spend that time playing Xbox and catching up on your Internet Memes, and besides, with all the popularity for tea parties that I keep hearing on the news these days, you might be surprised to find that those decade-old “expired” Lipton bags might be worth more than you’d think!